Poverty and Female Offenders in Canada
Poverty and Female Offenders in Canada
Since time immemorial, poverty has been a major problem facing our respective societies. Many people and families across the world have been subjected to high levels of poverty to the extent that they lack even the basic needs. Due to this fact, people have turned to criminal activities so as to earn their daily bread that can sustain the lives. However, women are ones that have been believed to be affected greatly by poverty and have also entered into criminal activities. Canada is hence one of the countries that has high rate of poverty and female criminal offenders across the world. Women are living in poor condition with many of them involved in many different criminal activities as explained below.
In Canada, there are 2.8 million women living in poverty. This means that in every five women, one is living in poverty. 56% of the poor in Canada are women. Some people and organizations think as a result that this implies that there is something wrong with how poverty is measured while others like Aboriginal communities which lack sewerage system or clean, flowing water recognize the realities of poverty in Canada. What does it implies to be poor in Canada? It is not similar to the poverty experienced other parts of the world (James et al., 1992). To be poor in Canada implies that you are surrounded by wealth but you can’t access it. It means having to select between paying your bills, transportation, rent, groceries, buying essential medical supplies and doing your laundry. It means lacking money for many things that other Canadians take for granted such as buying clothes for applying works in, giving birthday or Christmas gifts for your children, visiting relatives among others. It implies living in insufficient housing, usually in disrepair and overcrowded, increased-crime neighborhood. It implies that even five bucks is a great deal. It does not necessarily imply being on social assistance (James et al., 1992).
According to Hume (2004), the poverty of a woman has got a deep personal effect, ranging from acute and chronic ill health, augmented vulnerability to violence and all forms of abuse, early death and self-destructive coping mechanisms. The poverty of a woman has got also a deep social and economic effect on society since poor women also means poor children. Similarly, poor children are more prone to ill health, poor school achievement and disabilities. The best and most stable predictor of adult involvement in crime activity is poor school performance. Poverty leads to higher health, criminal justice and income security costs, and educed democratic participation.
Some women are especially susceptible to poverty, in certain Aboriginal women, visible minority women and women with disabilities. Each of these women’s groups has not only an average yearly income significantly less than that of a Canadian woman at large but significantly less than their male counterparts (Hume, 2004). Women who are most likely to be poor are single mothers and unattached women aged over 65 years in terms of age and family demographics. 56% of lone parent families headed by women are low income, when compared to 23% of those headed by lone men parent men. Approximately half, 49%, of single, divorced, widowed women aged over 65 years live in poverty compared with 38% of their male counterparts.
Hume (2004) asserts that there are simple structural reasons as to why there is an ongoing over-representation of women among poor Canadians. Low wages for women’s work and wages for women’s work are the two primary causes of poverty among Canadian women. Women do considerably more hours of unpaid job and child/family care when compared to men according to Statistics Canada. It also discloses that availability of children was the main determining factor in the wage gap between men and women other than age, education or marital status. Incomes of men tend to stay the same or rise when they father children but incomes of women tend to plummet when they have children.
In Canada, two-thirds of part-time workers are women. Many work part-time because of family duties. This hope that women will stop paid work and decrease hours of paid work so as to offer unpaid care giving and household job for others has an enduring negative impact on their earnings, eligibility for benefits, paid work experience and pension accumulation (Pollock-Byrne, 1990). When putting into consideration that one out of three marriages end up in divorce and the fact that women are likely to outlive their male partners, most women are probable to be alone at some point in their lives and depend on their own financial resources.
Women do between $234 billion and $374 billion worth of unpaid work annually. Women are penalized economically for having children while men are not instead of their valuable work to be recognized and awarded. Incase you think that child-bearing and rearing is not of great significance to the society, think of what would take place if all women decline to give birth. The whole human race would be wiped out in one age group. Then who would pay for your pensions.
According to (Pollock-Byrne, 1990), discrimination is the third structural reason for the women’s susceptibility to poverty. Numerous well-paid works are in men-dominated science, computer science and engineering, and male-dominated unionized manual jobs. Nevertheless, women who enter non-traditional jobs usually encounter hostility from employers or colleagues. Some women encounter multiple forms of discrimination in that they are subject to all typecasts and attitudes towards women in addition to racism, and nasty, destructive attitudes towards disabled people. The fact that women are highly susceptible to poverty than men is not new. This does not imply that Canadian women have suddenly become poor in the age of globalization, but for some women in the garment and other industries who lost their works. Direct and indirect effects of globalization on Canadian public policy are the problem that has been faced by Canadian women, and the direction being taken by the public policy over the past 20 years has been keeping women poor.
Handling of female offenders is becoming an increasingly significant issue. In Canada, the number of federally imprisoned adult female offenders rose by 75% from 1981 to 2002. The number of female prisoners under correctional supervision in the United States rose from 410,300 in 1986 to 895,300 in 1997 (Pierson & Cohen, 1995). Previously, we had consider male and female prisoners to have similar treatment requirements, but we ought to re-evaluate available treatment programs and start to put into force program revisions since we all know the rising numbers and contrary requirements of female offenders.
Historically, women and girls have accounted for a small minority of offenders in Canada, a reality that remains currently. It has been show constantly by research that females are much less probable to commit crimes when compared to men. Their slight number meant little was known about women offenders and their requirements at one time. It also implied that women and girls who committed crimes faced a Canadian criminal justice system designed for mainly male offender population.
Pierson & Cohen (1995) stipulate that it is exactly and comparatively small number of women and girls who commit crimes that creates a need to monitor regularly trends in offending patterns among females, tendencies that become masked by the bigger male population if not watched unconnectedly. Such information can be applied in crime prevention strategies and to assess answers by the social and justice systems to females who cause offense or who are at danger of offending. Information might also be used to improve public comprehension of crimes committed by girls or women.
The rate at which females come into contact with police is low in comparative to men. When regarding data from a subset of 122 police services in 9 provinces, female aged 12 years and older accounted for 21% of people charged of a Criminal Code offense in 2005. It is indicated by the police-reported data that the overall rate of offending among females that year was nearly 1¼ that of males (Pierson & Cohen, 1995). This dissimilarity in rates was apparent throughout all crime categories. Prostitution was the only type of crime for which females and males were detained by police for an equal rate- 19 females and 20 males per 100,000 population. This is probably due to the fact that counts of offenders include both clients and prostitutes.
It has been revealed by research that the teenage and young adult years are times when people are at most danger of getting engaged in criminal activities. Even though rates of offending are considerably lower for females, this is true for both males and females. It is indicated by the data from the subset of 122 police services that cases of property-related crime peaked at age of 15 years among girls aged 12 years and older, and reduced considerably thereafter (Pierson & Cohen, 1995). The general pattern among males was the same with property-crimes peaking at the age of 16. Girls aged 15 illustrated the highest rates in terms of violations against the person committed by female while the rates peaked among 17 years old among males.
Female youth aged between 12 and 17 years showed high rate of offending compared to female adult just like shown in males. The rate at which female youth were accused by the police of Criminal Code crimes was 3½ higher when compared to the rate of female adults; this is in accordance to the non-representative sample of 122 police services. The only crimes where rates were higher among female adults were fraud and prostitution (García, 2000). This is probably due to the fact that youth youths don’t have means through which they can commit fraud and if working as prostitutes, they are usually regarded as youth in terms of protection other than offenders.
García (2000) asserts that a great proportion of females accused were in contact with police for property crimes than for other kinds of crimes as compared to the male counterparts. Generally, 47% of female accused of a Criminal Code offense were charged with property crime and 28% were charged with violations against the person. In comparison, 39% and 34% respectively, were the proportions for males. An extra 17% of females were in conflict with police because of crimes against the administration of justice and 7% for other Criminal Code offences.
The rate at which females are accused for violations against the person is approximately one-fifth the rate of males in general. There are some commonalities in the most prevalent types of crimes committed by males and females as well as some significant differences despite some differences in the overall probability of offending. For example, common assault is the most common kind of violation against the people in both males and females (García, 2000). 122 police services reporting to the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey reported n the years 2005 that females were accused of common assault at a rate of 155/100,000 females while the rate for males stood at 594/100,0000 males. The major assault and uttering threats were the next most prevalent crimes for both males and females. The rate at which females were accused was nearly one-quarter the rate for females for each of these crimes. Nevertheless, the greater difference emerged with the respect to homicide, sexual offenses, robbery and attempted murder. In this type of violations against person, the participation of females is far less probable. For instance, the rate at which females were charged by police of robbery was eight times lower than that of the males. Female rates for attempted murder, sexual assault and homicide were negligible.
Females are most probable to commit a theft other than theft of a motor vehicle when they offend. At 291 accused/100,000 females, this infringement was not only the most common property crime among females, but the most common crime generally. Furthermore, theft by shoplifting was much more an ordinary among females than in males. 66% which is two-third of theft incidents involving a female charged shoplifting incidents compared to 51% which s a half of the incidents involving males (García, 2000). The other property crime that is a characteristic of female offending is fraud. Rates of females were approximately the rates for males in both theft and fraud. The probability that an offender is female with respect to breaking and entering, motor vehicle theft and mischief is considerably less. The rate for motor vehicle theft was eight time lower and the rate of mischief was nearly seven times lower while the female rate for breaking and entering was one tenths the rate for males. The rare participation of females in serious violent offences, motor vehicle theft and breaking and entering are repeated in the recent studies of self of self-reported crime among youth.
In general, poverty and criminal offenders are the main problems being faced by Canadians. Women are living in poor condition and paid little or no wages for the part-time work which they usually do. Canadian women have also been exposed to high levels of torture and discrimination with men dominating nearly everything in Canada. As a result, females in Canada have turned to criminal practices so as to earn their daily living. Many of them have entered into prostitution, shoplifting, breaking and entering, among many other crimes as means of income. Thus, I would like to call upon Canadian government and all governments across the world in addition to human rights organizations to ensure that Canadian women are provided and treated equally with men. They should be allowed to participate in white-collar jobs and full-time employment while those found committing offence should be brought before the law for prosecution. By doing this, the degree of poverty among Canadian women would be reduced immensely and criminal offences reduced dramatically.
García, B. (2000). Women, poverty, and demographic change. Oxford University: Oxford University Press
Hume, L. (2004). A gender-specific substance abuse program for federally-sentenced women. Forum on Corrections Research, 16, 2004, 40-41.
James, A., Bloom, B. & Donahue, T. (1992). Female offenders in the community: an analysis of innovative strategies and programs. Washington, DC: National Institute of Corrections.
Pierson, R. and Cohen, M. (1995). Canadian Women's Issues: Bold Visions. New York: James Lorimer & Company.
Pollock-Byrne, J. (1990). Women, Prison, and Crime. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.